A Bedtime Story for Parents

Posted 3:58 am

“Go the Fuck to Sleep” by Adam Mansbach (illustrated by Ricardo Cort├ęs) is a parody of children’s bedtime story. It is a humorous and exaggerated example of the frustration any parent feels when their little one won’t fall asleep. I recently came across an article on cnn.com regarding the book and some of what I read disturbed me.

The full article can be found here: (http://www.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/06/27/zacharias.kid.book/)

The general gist of the article seems to be along the lines of demonstrating the book isn’t funny because in the real world there are neglected children and parents use the word “fuck” a lot. I’m sure I’m not giving the author (Karen Spears Zacharias, author of “The Shelter of Mockingbirds: The Murder of 3-Year-Old Karly Sheehan.”) proper credit, but at least I’m presenting her writing for what it is.

Zacharias, in my humble opinion, doesn’t seem to understand the point of humor, and may not have a properly developed sense of what is funny. She quotes an expert on child development (Dr. David Arredondo, founder of The Children’s Program in the San Francisco metropolitan area) as saying “Imagine if this were written about Jews, blacks, Muslims or Latinos.” You know something? I can’t imagine it.

Can you imagine anything you’d reasonably expect or desire a Jew, black person, Muslim or Latino to do because they were Jewish, black, Muslim or Latino? Well, can you imagine it without being racist? I can’t. How is expecting your child to go to sleep, and being frustrated he won’t, akin to racism?

Zacharias goes on to say Mansbach’s book “accurately portrays the hostile environment in which too many children grow up.” What? Show me such an environment. The problem here is there is no such environment to be founds within reality. An episode of The Family Guy more accurately portrays an environment (hostile or otherwise) in which children grow up.

Okay, so “far too many” parents say “fuck” and “bullshit” and other such obscenities. I’d question that. I’ve looked into this and I have not found a single American family that did not use such language. Sure, there are some that don’t use those words specifically, but they have words which mean the same thing and they use them.

I’d agree the book “Go the Fuck to Sleep” is not intended for children and it would be bad parenting to use as an actual bedtime story. Not because of the “message” it may send, but because as a society we have deemed the language used without to be inappropriate. But is it demeaning to children? Not at all.

I do think Zacharias sums up her article quite well by implying parents should be more like the parents in “all those beautifully illustrated storybooks.” Sure thing, let’s all get right on that. I’m sure we’ll all be ideal parents by modeling our behavior after the parents of Rapunzel and Cinderella.

And we lived happily ever after.

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